It’s the offseason, the time when only the most hard-core whitetail addicts have their minds on fall while the rest of the sporting world is restocking its tackle box. Meanwhile, the deer woods are greening up, fawns are hitting the ground, and technology marches on. In the last decade we’ve seen smartphone-based trailcams, Ozonics anti-scent devices, mirror blinds, rangefinding scopes, topo map apps, and many more game-changers.
Certainly, there are deer hunters who prefer to keep their hunting simple and nostalgic, but a growing number of the big-buck afflicted are willing to use any modern technology so long as it provides advantage, falls within the bounds of that hunter’s moral compass, and is legal for use. This column is for these guys. Here are five new products that push the technology envelope in the deer woods.
Trophy Scan is not meant to help you in the field; it’s meant to help you celebrate your hard-earned trophy later. The company has patents on using 3D-scanning technology to scan trophy game animals. Once your deer or other horned animal is scanned, it can be scored using the company’s revolutionary VoluMetrics scoring program that measures its total volume among other popular scoring formulas, or the exact likeness of the trophy can be replicated using 3D printing to create scaled-down mementos, high-end custom jewelry, or full-size replicas of your exact animal. It therefore offers a level of insurance if your scanned trophy ever gets lost or damaged because the trophy is stored indefinitely on the hunter’s online profile, where it can be viewed in 3D or replicated. For 2020, Trophy Scan plans to release a 3D-scanner attachment for iPads that hunters can use to scan their harvested animals or mounted animals in the field or at home. $35 per scan; at Los Cazadores retail stores. $599 for scanner and app; trophyscan.com
PNUMA ICONX HEATED CORE VEST
When they’re sitting motionless on a cold deer stand, hunters need bulkyinsulation to trap heat and stay warm. The problem with this is that such clothing makes it tough to draw a bow. Pnuma—pronounced new-MA—has solved this by incorporating electronically heated carbon-fiber elements at critical places in its lightweight, base-layer-like vest. One lighted button controls the garment’s on/off and three levels of heat that last from two to six hours on one rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack. This vest is different from some others on the market in that its next-to-skin technology transmits heat instantly. The stretchy, close-fitting vest features HydroWick that wicks away sweat and a silver-based antimicrobial material to keep your stink at bay. As a huge bonus, the battery also features a USB port that’ll charge your cell phone. $150; pnumaoutdoors.com
BLASER R8 ULTIMATE
Quite simply, Blaser’s R8 Ultimate rifle system is the most technologically advanced rifle/scope combo ever produced. First, the German-made Blaser breaks down into four pieces in seconds so it can be carried in an ideal-sized travel case. In seconds the barrel of your choosing attaches to the receiver, the bolt and trigger assemblies snap into place, and the German-madetop-of-the-line scope clamps on, returning to zero, to give you a rifle that will shoot sub-MOA groups. The scope features an illuminated reticle that turns on when the gun’s safety (which also serves as its cocking lever) is pushed to fire. Perhaps most notably, the Blaser, with its straight-pull bolt design, is likely the fastest bolt-action rifle ever made. You can fire various calibers just by swapping out a modular barrel and corresponding bolt, making the system incredibly versatile. It’s safe, sophisticated, accurate, packable, and pricey. But that’s what you can expect from cutting-edge technology. $5,663–$11,891; blaser-usa.com
WILDGAME INNOVATIONS ZEROTRACE PURELON FIELD GENERATOR
The folks at Plano Synergy claim their ZeroTrace machine pumps positive and negative ions into the air around deer hunters that bind to odor molecules and neutralize them to reduce the hunter’s scent signature. While some folks are skeptical, plenty of great hunters I trust swear by this technology and believe it can help them during those times when a big buck comes in downwind—especially when they’re using ground blinds. While I haven’t seen enough conclusive evidence to say one way or another, the science behind these devices—much like the ozone-producing machines—is sound and used all over the world, and in nature itself, for cleaning. What I can say for sure is that if it gives hunters confidence to sit longer, well, sometimes that’s the most important thing. $209; wildgameinnovations.com
TETRA DEER AMPPODS
A lot has changed in hearing protection over the last 20 years. Just ask your grandpa, and see if his reply is, “Huh?” Back in the day, hunters were forced to choose between protecting their hearing or being able to hear game, but now, thanks to new technology from Tetra Hearing, hunters can do both. Tetra’s Deer AmpPods not only protect your hearing, but also enhance sounds in the woods so you’ll have Superman-like ears capable of detecting subtle grunts and the footsteps of deer as they try to sneak around behind you. That’s because the AmpPods feature a microprocessor that uses STO (Specialized Targeted Optimization) to enhance certain sounds in the auditory wavelength, such as deer bleats and human voices, while toning down background noise, such as wind. Then, of course, the amplifier shuts down in the event of loud noises, e.g., gunfire, thereby saving your hearing. What’s more, the low-profile AmpPods do not affect your cheekweld or bow drawing like muffs do. The price might seem high, but it’s cheap compared to the value of your hearing. $699; tetrahearing.com
Trijicon’s new Ventus rangefinder/wind reader is perhaps the most revolutionary product to come along since the trailcam or the rangefinder—and even more impressive in terms of sheer technological advancement. It features cutting-edge technology that allows hunters and riflemen to determine the wind at distances out to 500 meters. This critical variable in the long-range shooting equation provides the last piece of data for ballistic solutions and, therefore, accurate shooting without guessing. The data gathered by the Ventus can be beamed to the app on your smartphone, so all you have to do is make the adjustments to your scope. While this military-borne technology is mind-blowing, it’s also very expensive. The Ventus is expected to cost around $8,000 per unit. trijicon.com